(For more market insights, including options activity, click on ; for the Day Ahead newsletter link.reuters.com/mex49s; for the Morning News Call newsletter, link.reuters.com/nex49s) U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday ahead of data on the labor market and economic growth that may help investors assess whether the Federal Reserve may accelerate its timetable to wind down its monetary stimulus. Dow Jones industrial average futures were down 0.03 percent at 15,882, S&P 500 futures were up 0.12 percent at 1,794 and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 0.20 percent at 3,489.5.
** APPLE INC, Wednesday close $565, +1.30 pct premarket
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn said on Wednesday that he has filed a shareholder proposal with the iPhone maker for a much smaller stock buyback plan than he has advocated previously, as he continued to pressure Apple to share more of its cash pile.
China Mobile Ltd, China’s largest mobile operator, has signed a long-awaited deal with Apple to offer iPhones on its network, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing an anonymous source familiar with the matter.
** NUANCE COMMUNICATIONS INC, Wednesday close $14.15, +2.05 pct premarket
Activist investor Carl Icahn on Wednesday reported an 18.7 percent stake in the maker of software that runs the Siri feature on Apple Inc's iPhones, up from his earlier stake of almost 17 percent. (link.reuters.com/bus25v)
Icahn has been raising his stake in the company. In October, Nuance agreed to Icahn’s board nominees including his son Brett Icahn.
** SOLARCITY CORP, Wednesday close $52.17, +3.70 pct premarket
The company said it would begin offering Tesla Motors -made batteries with its commercial solar systems, allowing businesses to cut what they pay to their local utility by using stored electricity.
** ROYAL BANK OF CANADA, Wednesday close $64.61
Canada’s largest bank said its quarterly profit rose 11 percent, driven by stronger retail banking and capital markets income.
Separately, the bank said Chief Executive Gordon Nixon would retire effective Aug. 1, after 13 years at the helm.
** RENESOLA LTD, Wednesday close $4.53, -14.79 pct premarket
The Chinese solar products maker reported a bigger third-quarter loss due to a charge related to shutdown of a part of its polysilicon plant in Sichuan.
** SYNOPSYS INC, Wednesday close $36.50, -4.00 pct after market
The company, which makes software for chip development and testing, forecast first-quarter adjusted profit of 51-53 cents per share and revenue of $475 million-$485 million, below analysts’ estimates.
For the full year, the company forecast a profit of $2.55-$2.60 per share on revenue of $2.06 billion-$2.08 billion. Analysts were expecting a profit of $2.54 per share and revenue of $2.09 billion.
** GENERAL GROWTH PROPERTIES INC, Wednesday close $20.28, +4.29 pct premarket
The real estate investment trust said it would replace Molex Inc in the S&P 500 after the close of trading on Dec. 9. Privately held Koch Industries Inc is acquiring Molex in a deal expected to be completed on that date.
** BARRICK GOLD CORP, Wednesday close $15.68, -1.34 pct premarket
The world’s biggest gold producer, under fire for missteps in a tough market, started to address investor demands for a more independent board on Wednesday, by replacing two directors close to its departing founder with a pair of mining industry experts. [ID: nL2N0JJ29P]
** TEVA PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRIES, Wednesday close$40.03, +0.22 pct premarket
The world’s biggest producer of generic drugs is looking to step up the pace of deal-making as it braces for a slump in sales of top-selling multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone. [ID: nL5N0JJ1VS]
** PUMA BIOTECHNOLOGY INC, Wednesday close $46.21, +18.37 pct premarket
The drug developer said its breast cancer drug, neratinib, showed improvement when added to standard chemotherapy in the neoadjuvant setting compared with standard chemotherapy in a mid-stage study.
Neoadjuvant therapy aims to reduce the size or extent of the cancer before conventional chemotherapy is applied, making the procedure more effective.
** MAVENIR SYSTEMS INC, Wednesday close $9.70, +4.00 pct after market
The software maker reported a 52 percent rise in third-quarter revenue on Wednesday, helped by a rise in the number of customers.
Deutsche Bank started covering the company’s stock on Thursday with a “buy” rating, according to Benzinga.com.
** JOS. A. BANK CLOTHIERS INC, Wednesday close $56.89
The suit and tuxedo retailer, said comparable-store sales rose in November, suggesting its new strategy of offering more straight discounts rather than buy-one-get-more offers was paying off.
** AEROPOSTALE INC, Wednesday close $9.36, -5.98 pct premarket
The apparel retailer forecast a much bigger-than-expected loss for the holiday shopping quarter as it struggles to keep up with the tastes of young shoppers.
** GUESS INC, Wednesday close $33.34
The apparel retailer cut its full-year revenue forecast, saying it expected a bigger fall in European sales in the holiday-shopping quarter.
** COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP, Wednesday close $122.97, -1.07 pct premarket
The retailer’s November same-store sales fell short of analysts’ expectations, as lower gasoline prices and weak foreign currencies dampened a 5 percent increase in the company’s monthly net sales.
** MATTRESS FIRM HOLDING CORP, Wednesday close $34.24, +14.39 after market
** TEMPUR PEDIC, Wednesday close $50.22, +0.76 pct premarket
** SELECT COMFORT Wednesday close $20.35, +2.01 pct premarket
The mattress retailer raised its full-year revenue forecast after reporting a better-than-expected 18 percent rise in quarterly sales as increased advertising helped bring customers to its stores.
Shares of mattress makers Tempur Pedic and Select Comfort also rose on the news.
** CONN‘S INC, Wednesday close $58.46, +15.29 pct premarket
The retailer reported third-quarter results that beat analysts’ estimates, driven by strong sales of its home appliances, furniture, mattresses and electronics.
The company also raised its fiscal 2014 adjusted earnings forecast.
** FRANCESCA‘S HOLDINGS CORP, Wednesday close $18.1, -11.60 pct premarket
The specialty retailer forecast current-quarter results below analysts’ estimates, citing a weaker start to the holiday selling season.
** SAFEWAY INC, Wednesday close $34.21
Activist investor Jana Partners LLC said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday that it reduced its stake in the grocer and it was pleased with the steps it has taken to exit the Chicago market and review its business.
** EQUINIX INC, Wednesday close $161.79, +2.57 pct premarket
The data center service provider said it authorized a $500 million share repurchase program till the end of 2014.
** MCKESSON CORP, Wednesday close $162.74
The largest U.S. drugs wholesaler said it launched a tender offer to buy outstanding shares of German peer Celesio , as it moved ahead to prevent hedge fund Elliott International from potentially blocking the multi-billion dollar deal. (Compiled by Avik Das in Bangalore; Editing by Kirti Pandey)